UN - IRAQ: The United Nations will host a major conference on the long-term recovery efforts for Iraq today at its main headquarters in New York. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will co-chair the ministerial session with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Representatives from 20 nations will participate in the conference, including many of Iraq's neighbors, such as Iran, Kuwait and Syria. The meeting will focus on a resolution adopted by the General Assembly last month to expand the U.N.'s presence in Iraq.
BURMA - PROTEST: Witnesses in Burma say nearly 10-thousand monks have marched through the city of Mandalay in one of their largest demonstrations against the military government. Today is the fifth straight day the monks have staged a protest. Another march was also held in Rangoon, where witnesses said that detained pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi greeted the monks when they were allowed to march past her home. Officials have not confirmed the report. On Friday, 600 robed monks braved intense rain and walked from the Shwedagon Pagoda, the holiest shrine in Burma, to downtown Rangoon.
CUBAN - CASTRO: Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro has appeared in a recorded interview on Cuban television, his first television appearance in three months. The interview recorded Friday aired on state television. Mr. Castro looked alert and healthy as he sat dressed in a red, white, and blue track suit answering an interviewer's questions. He quoted the price of oil and Thursday's value of the euro against the dollar. He also held up a book published this week by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Mr. Castro has not appeared in public since July of 2006, when he handed over power to his brother Raul before undergoing intestinal surgery.
CHILE - PERU - FUJIMORI: Former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori is expected to be extradited from Chile to back to Peru today to face charges of corruption and human rights abuse. Chile's Supreme Court ruled Friday that the former president must be extradited to Peru, saying it had agreed to seven of the 13 charges filed by Peruvian prosecutors against Mr. Fujimori. A Peruvian police plane flew to Santiago Friday and was waiting to take Mr. Fujimori back to Lima for trial. This will be the first time the 69-year old former leader will be back in Peru in seven years. Mr. Fujimori spent five years in exile in Japan following the collapse of his government in 2000.
JAPAN - ELECTION: The latest opinion polls in Japan indicate that former chief Cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda is set for a decisive victory in the race to become Japan's next prime minister. A survey released today by the Asahi newspaper said that Fukuda is expected to secure more than 60-percent of the votes when the ruling Liberal Democratic Party casts ballots for its new leader on Sunday. Fukuda is running against former foreign minister Taro Aso. The winning candidate is guaranteed to become prime minister because the LDP has a majority in Japan's powerful lower house. The winner will formally become prime minister on Tuesday after a parliamentary vote.
TAIWAN - UN: The U.N. General Assembly has thwarted Taiwan's latest bid for membership in the world body. The 192-member General Assembly agreed by consensus Friday to exclude Taiwan's application from its current session. This was the 15th straight year Taiwan has attempted to join the U.N., but the first time it did so under the name of Taiwan, rather than its official title, the "Republic of China." China took over the island's U.N. seat in 1971 and objects to Taiwan's membership in any international organizations that require sovereignty. China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, and Beijing still considers the island part of its territory.
TAIWAN - POLITICS: The chairman of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party has resigned following his indictment on charges of corruption. Yu Shyi-kun stepped down today, one day after prosecutors indicted him, Vice President Annette Lu and former foreign minister Chen Tan-sun on corruption allegations. The three are accused of collecting receipts from unidentified parties and using them to claim reimbursement between 2000 and 2005. The vice president is accused of falsely claiming 170-thousand dollars in special expenses, while Yu is accused of misusing 73-thousand dollars. Yu has denied the charges. No date has been set for trials.
CHINA - VATICAN: The Vatican has approved the installation of a new bishop for Beijing by China's state-controlled Catholic Church. The official Vatican newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano" published an article today (Friday) saying Pope Benedict supports the appointment of Father Joseph Li Shan to the influential post. The newspaper also noted Benedict's approval of the recent appointment of an assistant bishop in southern Guiyang city. China's state-controlled Catholic Church installed Li earlier today in a ceremony at Beijing's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
RICHEAST - AMERICANS: A leading U.S. financial magazine has released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans - topped by a familiar name, Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates leads the Forbes list for the 14th year in a row, with a fortune of 59 billion dollars. Investor Warren Buffet, who pledges money to Gates' charity foundation, follows close behind with 52 billion dollars. To qualify for this year's list, members had to be worth a minimum of one-point-three billion dollars, which is 300 million more than it took to make the list last year. The youngest member, 33-year-old John Arnold, made one-point-five billion dollars managing large hedge fund investments.
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